More raises at DHHS; McCrory memo had ordered cutbacks - WNCN: News, Weather

More raises at DHHS; McCrory memo ordered cutbacks

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DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos
RALEIGH, N.C. -

As Information Technology Director for N.C. FAST (Families Accessing Services Through Technology), 39-year-old Anthony Vellucci makes sure statewide computer systems are running smoothly.  He's held his current position since 2010, according to state records. In June, he received a pay raise of more than $23,000, bringing his annual salary to $168,000.  That's $27,000 more than the annual salary of Gov. Pat McCrory.

Vellucci's raise is in addition to other pay bumps at the Department of Health and Human Services, which we told you about earlier this week.  24-year-old Communications Director Ricky Diaz got an extra $23,000 in April.  24-year-old Chief Policy Advisor Matthew McKillip took in an extra $22,500 around the same time.

Read More: McCrory defends double-digit pay raises at DHHS

On Thursday, in an interview with WNCN's Penn Holderness, McCrory defended those raises saying they were the result of well-deserved promotions, but state records show Vellucci's raise was not the result of a promotion.  In fact, it's classified as a "retention adjustment."

DHHS Human Resources Director Mark Gogal said doling out an extra $23,000 in pay was necessary to keep Vellucci from leaving.

"Retention of Mr. Vellucci was critical," Gogal said in an email response to WNCN on Friday.  "He is the project manager for an IT project that has been in development since 2009 and affecting all public assistance benefits in all 100 NC counties.  This project - North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology (NC FAST) is a program designed to improve the way the NC Department of Health and Human Services and county departments of social services serve North Carolinians.  Implementation of the project is critical for NC to meet deadlines imposed by the federal government for the ACA."

Other high-level staffers at DHHS have recently taken in big raises as well.  For example, 35-year-old Jason Simmons, a senior planner, took in a $22,500 pay raise in April, bringing his salary to $62,500.

Those raises took place after a March 8 memo McCrory sent to state agencies, directing them to reign in salaries due to major Medicaid cost overruns.

That memo read in part, "Limit compensation increases to only those needed for promotions and reclassifications where there is clear documentation of increased responsibilities and the expectation that agency accountability and performance will be improved."

McCrory has also blamed those Medicaid cost overruns, in part, for freezing teacher salaries in the two-year state budget he signed into law in July.

Friday, WNCN's Steve Sbraccia traveled to Greenville, where McCrory and DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos held a press conference on an unrelated topic. 

Following the event, when Steve Sbraccia and our photographer tried to approach Wos to ask her questions, security guards created a barricade, blocking our camera and allowing Wos to walk away.

 

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Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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